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Canoeing the Mountains: Chapter One

September 28, 2017
By Kyle Sanford

I recently picked up an intriguing book recommended by a friend, “Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory” (three-minute introductory video).  I’m only one chapter in but I’m already loving it.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the first chapter:

  • (Page 14) “If Western societies have become post-Christian mission fields, how can traditional churches become them missionary churches?”
     
    • Christianity was the dominant cultural force of the Western world for 17 centuries.  This is no longer the case. We are now missionaries in our own nation. Many of the rules that worked for centuries no longer apply. Are we ready to adjust to the changes?
       
  • (19) “Today’s leaders are facing complex challenges that have no clear-cut solutions. These challenges are more systematic in nature and require broad, widespread learning. They can’t be solved through a conference, a video series or program. Even more complicated, these problems are very often the result of yesterday’s solutions… They arise when the world around us has changed but we continue to live on the successes of the past… They demand that leaders make hard choices about what to preserve and to let go. There challenges that require people to learn and to change, that require leaders to experience and navigate profound loss.”
     
    • I’ve often heard it said that “one of the biggest barriers to tomorrow’s growth is yesterday’s success.”  While we celebrate God’s work in the past, we must be willing to embrace his new work for new generations. Otherwise, we sacrifice the future to preserve the past.
       
  • (19-21) “Leadership is not authority. It is not the title or position that a person holds. Leadership is different than management. Leadership is not running good meetings, keeping good books, overseeing good programs and making good policies (as important as those are!). Management is a kind of stewardship. Management cares for what is. Leadership is focused on what can be or what must be. Management is about keeping promises to constituency; leadership is about an organization fulfilling its mission and realizing its reason for being.”
     
    • We’ve too often misapplied the language of leadership.  Leaders are not leaders if they do not bring change. As we live in a society of constant and significant change, we need true leaders to navigate the complexities of the future.  The good news is that God calls these leaders within every generation.

My takeaway: We stand at the threshold of the new era; the Western world is changing in ways we haven’t seen in 17 centuries.  For managers, this uncertainty is a time of great fear and anxiety. For leaders, this is a time of great possibility and opportunity.  Let’s listen to God’s call and face this challenge with joy!

Posted in Leadership

Why Does the Universe Look Old?

September 27, 2017
By Kyle Sanford

https://www.challies.com/articles/why-does-the-universe-look-so-old-2/

When I talk with friends who wrestle with accepting Jesus, it’s common to ask about Creation and Evolution.  These questions may be just as common in the church as well.  So how can we answer in a way that’s biblical and intelligent?

This brief article only hits on a small piece of a broader subject, yet this one piece is pivotal.  The answer is simple and makes sense.  I don’t know why I don’t hear more people talking about it.

My takeaway: God loves both faith and science.  Let’s not be afraid to explore the big questions of life and the universe.  We won’t find the answers to the questions we never ask.

Posted in Apologetics

9 Signs Your Church is Stalling Out

September 18, 2017
By Kyle Sanford

https://careynieuwhof.com/9-signs-your-church-is-stalling-out/

The heart of the church is worship: studying God’s Word, singing his praises, offering our prayers.  This is the foundation for healthy spiritual growth.  Without taking the Bible seriously, a church can grow larger but the people cannot be spiritually healthy.

However, we should acknowledge that the reverse is also true.  There are many churches who properly honor the Bible, yet their membership and stagnant or shrinking a number. If the church was merely an institution for imparting doctrinal knowledge, then every true church should be growing at a similar pace since we share the same Bible.  What this teaches us is that organizational leadership also plays a significant role in the health of congregations.

Stagnant or declining churches cannot be the result of the Bible’s insufficiency. In most cases, it is a deficiency of wise leadership which limits the advancement of the gospel.

The article linked above is a quick summary of the common factors which inhibit the growth of wise leaders within the church. It is a convicting look at church culture, but one too valuable to ignore.

My takeaway: We need to be willing to ask ourselves if our church culture stifles gospel advancement. God is always faithful to raise up new leaders of wisdom, but resistant churches naturally push them away. How can we as a church grow this leadership within our own membership, and how can we encourage them to use their God-given gifts within our own congregation?

Posted in Leadership

Christians Must Eat Locust

September 12, 2017
By Kyle Sanford

http://adam4d.com/locusts/

I love the work of Adam Ford, and this is a fantastic example.  He takes an absurd idea (i.e. “Christians must eat locusts”), but he uses the style of arguments that are often used to make the Bible say things it doesn’t say.

Adam brings up an excellent point, what if you personally liked eating locust?  Then a ridiculous argument suddenly becomes “undeniable truth”.  But did the argument become sound, or do we instinctively look for what agrees with us and call it the truth?

My takeaway: It’s important for every Christian to learn how to properly read and interpret the Bible (this is called hermeneutics).  We cannot simply rely on the “paid professionals” to tell us what to think.  Otherwise, we will unwittingly fall victim to other’s hobby-horses, if it sounds favorable to us.

Can you use the Bible to explain why Christians are not required to eat locust?

Tags: Bible, Satire
Posted in Theology