Tag: carefronting

Me, Mark Driscoll & Mars Hill

Yes, I heard the latest and the deluge of questions that followed. It is an interesting place to be, so here is my response for those asking. Hopefully we are all learning through this:

Be eclectic
A pattern I started in ministry is to follow intensely a local church for a year or two. Mars Hill was one of numerous other churches, and the most recent completed. The reason I do this is to catch the central theme of the church, what lessons I can learn (both from their strengths and weaknesses), and to gain new insights for ministry. It is VERY dangerous to follow one ministry exclusively. A question often asked is who do I follow? Meaning: what big name are you about. My response is I’m eclectic. Some see this as a cop out. Being eclectic is based on advice from an older mentor the national church will never know. Learn from all, but follow Jesus.

Be biblical
The Bible does not give an exemption to biblical peacemaking if a figure is a ‘celebrity’. Much of the mess in the news is slander, gossip and bitterness. I agree with Pastor Mark’s recent statement that the court of public opinion is not the best route to take. Biblical repentance and restoration is a process. Church discipline stops when repentance starts. Further, love does not keep an account of wrongs suffered (1 Cor 13). Dredging up old, repented, and forgiven sins is unbiblical in large measure. It’s what Satan does. The church as a whole dropped the ball.

Be missional
Focus on the mission Jesus gives us. I have read statements to the effect that he glory days of Mark and Mars is over. Such a statement fundamentally misunderstands the Gospel. Is it possible, yes. But, it is also possible that the best years are ahead for both Mark and Mars. I am confident no one wants to declare that once you blow it God will never mightily use you again. Peter, Paul, Samson, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. would disagree. The other side of conflict is worship. This will further Christ’s kingdom and the purifying of His bride, the church. Focus on being a peacemaker.

Be introspective
A healthy look in the mirror would do us all good, especially pastors. Few people, if anyone, can handle all their past failures being thrown out there with every new ‘development.’ The ‘yeah, but he…’ statements do not help. But for the grace of God, you and I could be in a mess too. Truthfully, many non-celebrity pastors damage churches and church staffs as well. I hear about it regularly. We can blame the pastor, but equally to blame is our cowardliness inaction of biblical peacemaking. Our lack to practice biblical forgiveness. The whole situation says much more about us than about Mark and Mars. We can do better.

Yeah, but…
Yes there are issues. Yes I’m confident they are serious. To yeah, but the ‘yeah, but…’ is it our place to deal with this? Is our national attention helping or hurting the local church? Psalm 73 states how we need to be careful how we speak so as to not undermine a future generation. James’ advice to be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger is missing on many sides. I’m more concerned with the lack of character demonstrated by Christian media than about the situation. So, yeah, but God has a way of working these things out for good.

The bottom line:
God will use this whole situation to His glory. Jesus will use this situation to purify His bride. My response? I think biblical peacemaking is a critical need in all of us and I think we all need to remove that blemish. My prayer is that from this Pastor Mark and Mars Hill comes back stronger than ever. Why? Because God is cool and able to make that happen. He did, after all, cleanse us from ALL our sin. Christianity is about a relationship, repentance and reconciliation. It is not a religion where once we blow it we are done for good. That is legalism and a false gospel.

People don’t have enough cheerleaders…

DSC_0527People don’t have enough cheerleaders, but they have plenty of critics. I’ve found the difference is really a choice a person makes. We can choose act as a cheerleader or we can choose act as a critic. In our hyper-critical church world, the choice is often to be a critic.

Biblical love is HARD!
Practicing 1 Corinthians 13 love, or Philippians 4:8-9 is HARD! How hard is it to trust and believe all things? Just by saying that the ‘Yeah, but’ crowd starts bubbling up about discernment or sin. Truth does not trump love nor love truth. How can I assume the best knowing that many are [insert the worst possible stereotype you can think of here]? Because that is what the Bible instructs me to do. After all, love is the more excellent way. Excellence is hard, messy and an intentional choice.

Act don’t react
Cheerleading is an intentional act, criticism is a reaction. Cheerleaders promote what they are FOR. Critics promote what they are AGAINST. Cheerleaders see what’s wrong, but push for what’s best. Critics see what is wrong, and push what is wrong. Cheerleaders praise in public and criticize in private. Critics criticize in public and (maybe) praise in private, hedged with said criticism. Cheerleading is hard because there are things seen that are frustrating. Criticism is easy because it is easier to destroy instead of build up. Cheerleaders trust God. Critics play God. What are you FOR?

Yeah, but the truth must be stated, right?
Promoting what you are for is stating truth. The statement “telling the truth is the most loving thing you can do” often puts truth above love. Think of it this way: out of the heart the mouth speaks. If I speak truth critically instead of lovingly, there is a theological error in my heart. We act based on what we believe. The ‘Yeah, but’ Crowd often speaks truth out of theological error.

God is God and we’re not
Paul didn’t mind his critics judging him or his motives. Why? Because God does. In fact, Paul didn’t even bother to judge himself for the same reason. Paul didn’t mind preachers making a name for themselves. Why? Because the Gospel was still being proclaimed. Paul didn’t go nuclear on false teaching in the Ephesian church. WHAT!? Paul sent Timothy to to instruct false teachers and bring them inline with the Bible. Cheerleading is a patient, long-suffering work that “GOD may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth…”

The bottom line:
I choose to be a cheerleader rather than a critic. Praise in public, criticize in in private. Cheerleading is about building up. It is not being naive about faults. Cheerleading is recognizing the value of one’s strengths that we can learn from. The Holy Spirit is really good at his job. He will accomplish his task of making people Christlike. Keep what you are for as the main thing. Promoting such naturally and patiently deals with the things you are critical of.

Do we beleive this?

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. ~Ephesians 4:29-32 NASB

Manic Monday: Be real & listen

I watched a video with Fancis Chan, Mark Driscoll and Joshua Harris. I’m not quite sure what the discussion was about, but Mark switched the topic to what Francis is doing. The conversation exemplified speaking the truth in love, asking hard questions, and theology. I encourage you to take the time to watch and listen here. It’s about 15 min.

Note these things:

1) A concern and valuing of a brother takes precedent over the agenda.

2) The issue was discussed in community at Francis Chan’s church.

3) The Bible and the Gospel drove the conversation and issue.

4) The spirit of love, concern and truth.

We need to be real with each other in a way that is gracious and loving while also being truthful and discerning. We also need to have theology be a driving force in our discussion processes. Too often we assume the theology and disguise our conversations as “general revelation” or “it’s not an “un-biblical” issue, just a “non-biblical” one. We act based on what we believe. This conversation is an example of that. We need more of this kind of talk in churches.

(especially on Monday)


The bride is not ready yet…

Jesus said the meek shall inherit the Earth. I feel as though we are not always meek, for sure I am not. It seems we are awfully arrogant, more than we would care to admit. This is not bad in the sense of being overwhelming to us. It just means God is not done perfecting us yet. Here are a couple of examples:

Jesus: Whoever is not against you is for you.
I remember sitting in class and the prof started to list out different movements in evangelism, their proponents, and the ensuing criticism. The discussion fascinated me. There wasn’t a linear progression of understanding. It was a cycle we were already repeating. The realization went like this:

“How many of you thought big-ten revivals were a good thing? Uh-huh. And the seeker sensitive movement? Not so many hands this time? In about 150 years evangelism in America came full circle and is now repeating the cycle.” Ouch…

Rather than criticize form we should learn from each other. A large part of a method’s success is its context: both historical and cultural. Granted every method, movement and church carries problems. The problems may be significant, but it doesn’t make them completely wrong nor completely right. We need to listen and discern better.

Paul: Instruct men not to teach strange doctrines…
God really does care about solid doctrine. Paul did not tell Timothy to remove, separate, ignore or burn the men of Ephesus at the stake. Throughout his writings Paul told Timothy to use love and patience, to instruct as a son to a father or a brother to a brother. Said another way, Paul sent a young guy in to help, clean up and correct the church by leveraging humility. Not exactly a quick, authoritarian method to clean up what was a doctrinal mess.

I sense as Christians we speak right past each other. We are great at making straw men and even better and beating them. Confidence of one’s doctrine and humility are not mutually exclusive. The elder professors I had in seminary were very confident in what they taught, but their humility was excessive. They listened and asserted, held firm but still learned with open minds.

One day I purchased a large number book and proceeded to move them to my car. One of the elder professors put his stuff down on the floor and helped me. He taught none of my classes at that point during seminary. I saw and better understood the relationship between confidence, faith and humility when I did have him as a teacher; all based on this event. We need to pursue humility as a path knowing God and truth.

The bottom line:
Other than Christ is it seems the other thing we Christians have in common is our arrogance. We all to easily forget that it is Christ who wills and works in us. It is He who will carry our work until the day of perfection. Christ washes and purifies the bride. In the arrogance we all have in common we can continue to act that way, get overwhelmed, or we can rest in the fact that God isn’t done with us yet. We call can improve in listening, discernment and humility while also laying aside our straw men.

I wonder if we lack peace in what we do because we don’t follows Paul’s instructions if Philippians 4. We are a very anxious people. Yes, there are differences in our churches. But, we can still be thankful and pray for each other. Yes as Christians we disagree on points of doctrine. We can still learn from each other. Christ leveraged humility in leading us, and we should do the same when interacting with each other.

Conflict Part 4: You need mentors!

The key to learning how to handle conflict well is having good mentors. How to work through conflict in a way that puts the relationship and growth as the priority is an art. Books and reading can only take you so far. The Apostle Paul gave instructions for people to help other people out through conflict. For the last post, here is a human-ography (bibliography) for the Conflict series. In a real sense, this series was over 10 years in the making.

Carefront: Pastor Matthew
Pastor Matthew did 2 critical things: 1) He waked me through conflict as I started out in pastoral ministry. 2) He taught me how carefronting is living out what the Bible expects of us. I gleaned the term carefront from him. Words mean things, and carefront sets the proper tone for handling conflict.

O.I.C.: Dr. Wilhite, Peterson, Dr. Austin
These gentlemen developed a process for handling conflict that works on a variety of age groups, uses the side door, and understands that conflict is part of our growth. A key often left out is the “how.” O.I.C. gave me the “how” of conflict. Many can tell you what to do, but how is important. These gentlemen gave me the how.

Q1: Pastor Jake
Years of experience and walking with God through conflict is a gold mine. That is Pastor Jake. He would often remind me that “God is the one who grants repentance.” Counseling people through conflict and issues has its own pace. Rushing conflict because we want to get it over with is dangerous. Pacing is an art involving great wisdom and relying on God. It needs prayer. Everyone needs a Pastor Jake.

Q2 & Q3: Dr. Jeffery
In a seminary chapel on handling conflict in marriage, President Jeffery gave us a chart. On each axis stood one of the questions. In the upper right corner was a dark circle called the “The region of conflict.” He took the chapel the explain the tool and how to gauge when or if we should carefront. He developed or learned of the tool in his years of pastoral ministry.

The bottom line:
Conflict is a reality of life. We cannot avoid it. To navigate these growth opportunities well you need mentors who will guide you and give you the tools and faith needed. Mentors are the difference between a light at the end of the tunnel and the light above the dentist chair. Mentors give us the hope as they equip us to be like Christ in and through conflict. They are the light God uses at the end of the tunnel because they’ve been there.’’

To my mentors, thanks!