Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Midweek Meditation: "On Evangelism" (Billy Graham)

Billy Graham passed away on Feb 21st, 2018. He is also referred to an evangelist. Let's us reflect on his sayings about evangelism.
  • "During all my years as an evangelist, my message has always been the Gospel of Christ. It is not a Western religion, nor is it a message of one culture or political system. . . . it is a message of life and hope for all the world."
  • "The evangelist cannot bring conviction of sin, righteousness, or judgment; that is the Spirit's work. They cannot convert anyone; that is the Spirit's work."
  • "Evangelism is not a calling reserved exclusively for the clergy. I believe one of the greatest priorities of the church today is to mobilize the laity to do the work of evangelism."
  • "The great crowds themselves are meaningless. The thing that counts is what happens in the hearts of the people. The evangelist sows the seed, and much inevitably falls upon stony ground and bears no fruit. But only if a few seeds flourish, the results are manifold."
  • "Evangelism is more than simply encouraging decisions for Christ. It is urging people to become disciples - followers - of Jesus Christ. As such, the evangelist has a responsibility to make growth in discipleship possible for those who come to faith under his ministry."

Monday, March 19, 2018

BookPastor >> "Welcome to College" (Jonathan Morrow)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on April 18th, 2017.


TITLE: Welcome to College: A Christ-Follower's Guide for the Journey
AUTHOR: Jonathan Morrow
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publishers, 2017, (416 pages).

Entering college for the first time is probably one of the most exciting time for young people. It could also be one of the most challenging and stressful periods. For Christians, there is another challenge: How to keep, let alone grow one's faith? The college environment is a place where many worldviews clash in a climate where there are more questions than answers. If untested, the unsuspecting believer might be unprepared for the onslaught of perspectives that threaten to derail their beliefs. What if there is a guide to help college bound kids prepare themselves? This is where this book comes in. There is no need to fear the challenges that are to come. Even in the midst of the many intellectual assaults, adequately trained believers would not just survive but thrive in the hostile filled secular environments. The author gives three initial pieces of wisdom to kickstart the discussion:
  1. We are not alone
  2. With freedom comes responsibility
  3. Don't take ourselves too seriously

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Midweek Meditation: "On the Church" (Billy Graham)

Billy Graham passed away on Feb 21st, 2018. His life is filled with powerful testimonies of the good news of Christ. These are some of his sayings about the Church.
  • "I am convinced if the Church went back to the main task of proclaiming the Gospel, it would see people being converted to Christ, and it would have far greater impact on the social, moral, and psychological needs of people than anything else it could possibly do."
  • "Thousands of people have entered churches without discovering a vital experience with Jesus Christ. The substitutes have been handed them in the guise of religious rituals, good works, community effort, or social reform. . . none of which can gain a person a right relationship with God."
  • "The Church isn't just a particular building or congregation but the spiritual fellowship of all who belong to Jesus Christ. If we belong to Christ, we also belong to each other."
  • "The Church should not reflect pop culture but portray godly attributes. The Church should not seek pleasures but seek after God."
  • "The Church should not be pampered but rather prepare for, and expect, persecution - for it is Christ's body on earth."

Monday, March 12, 2018

BookPastor >> "Meet Generation Z" (James Emery White)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on April 6th, 2017.


TITLE: Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World
AUTHOR: James Emery White
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2017, (224 pages).

We have heard of the various terms to describe the various generations. The Baby Boomers are those born between the years 1940s-1960s; the Generation X (born in the 70s-80s); and Millennials (born in the 80s-90s). Generation Z are the newest and youngest group, which is the focus of the latest book from prolific writer and pastor, James Emery White. He calls this generation the "First truly post-Christian Generation." They will make up to 25% of the entire US population and will play a major role in shaping the culture that is to come. This book focuses on what this generation is, its origins, its characteristics, and the need for the Church to re-think her approaches to engaging and interacting with this rising generation. This generation comprises a rising number of formerly churched people, aka, post-Christian. The key thesis of this book is that we need to understand the upcoming culture and its trend in order to reach them meaningfully. It is meant to complement White's two earlier books, Serious Times and The Rise of the Nones. The former is a wake-up call to the Church to rethink more seriously its approaches to an increasingly pluralistic, secular, privatized, relativistic, hedonistic, and narcissistic culture. The latter focuses more on the post-Christians group of people. This book continues the path of helping Church think more effectively about reaching this post-Christian culture and people. White describes some of the signs of this 'seventh age.'

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Midweek Meditation: "On the Bible" (Billy Graham)

What has Billy Graham to say about the Bible? Lots.
  • "Let the study of the Bible become central in your life - not just so you will know it, but that you will obey it."
  • "It is man and not the Bible that needs correcting. Greater and more careful scholarship has shown that apparent contradictions were caused by incorrect translations, rather than divine inconsistencies."
  • "The sword of the Spirit - the Bible - is the weapon God has provided for us to use in this battle between truth and deception. Make it a priority to wield that sword skillfully."
  • "When we approach the Bible as history and biography, we approach the Bible in the wrong spirit. We must read the Bible, not primarily as historians seeking information, but as men and women seeking God."
  • "Man is precisely what the Bible says he is. Human nature is behaving exactly as the Bible said it would. The course of human history is flowing just as Christ predicted."

Monday, March 05, 2018

BookPastor >> "Ministry Mantras" (J.R. Briggs and Bob Hyatt)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on March 16th, 2017.


TITLE: Ministry Mantras: Language for Cultivating Kingdom Culture
AUTHOR: J.R. Briggs and Bob Hyatt
PUBLISHER: Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2016, (269 pages).

A mantra is a short word, phrase, or a chant. It can be a proverb or a wise saying. Inspired by Guy Kawasaki's words "Don't write a mission statement, write a mantra," authors Briggs and Hyatt have taken up the challenge to do just that for the Church ministry and Christian ministries in general. Writing a mantra forces one to choose only the most appropriate and significant words to project a thought or a meaning. It brings clarity to the hearers by first bringing clarity to the writers. According to the authors, mantras need four elements.

  1. It is wise and truthful
  2. The message is clear
  3. It is compelling
  4. It is memorable

A ministry mantra is basically describing the organizational mission or vision in a brief statement. It is important because its simplicity promotes clarity; clarity encourages creativity; and creativity inspires ease of communications. Briggs and Hyatt call it "the proverbial seeds of kingdom values planted in local communities of faith." They structure this book in 80 short chapters, with each chapter titled with a mantra. They supply mantras in two parts: for leaders and for the community. For leaders, there are sections pertaining to leadership; vision; motivation; ministry; pastoral care; leadership development; opportunities; success; and Self-Development. For the community, they write on matters to promote community; formation; tips on responding to conflicts; learning to do outreach and stewardship. Many of the mantras have given rise to creative thinking and opportunities to think out of the box. Some of my favourites are:

  • "Leadership is Purposefully Choosing Whom You will disappoint"
  • "Structure must always submit to Spirit"
  • "Don't Try to make Church relevant to the crowds; Make the Gospel Relatable to the Context"
  • "If they know you love them, you can say anything to them"
  • "Ministry is Meeting People where they are and Journeying with them to where God wants them to Be "
  • "Ministry happens in the interruptions"
  • "The essence of discipleship i snot knowledge, but imitation"
  • "Quit looking for leaders and start building them"
  • "It's kingdom, not competition"
  • "We will let you down: If we're close enough to help, we're close enough to hurt"
  • "Community is made, not found"
  • "Rotate your crops"
  • "Church is free, but it ain't cheap"
Mantras are languages spoken or written in a clear and brief manner. It cuts away the spaghetti of mass information to yield an important point. While we can always say that context is important, being able to communicate something is better than people disengaging completely. In an attention-deficit world, many are jumping on the bandwagon of short quips and easy quotes. They prefer abbreviations and straight to the point messages. They have no time to bother with long essays. Reading has also taken a beating, with more people choosing electronic media over print. This is why I believe books like this will reach a segment of readers in a way that traditional books could not. It is a great resource for leaders to learn how to do ministry without letting unrealistic expectations overwhelm them. The mantras does three things.

First, it challenges our set thinking. Just because things have been done a certain way in the past does not mean it must be so for the present and future. Indeed, churches that are struggling tend to look back at the good-old-days, forgetting that the past can never be repeated in new contexts. By shaking up the status quo, leaders are forced to be creative and innovative in their ministry approaches. This does not mean throwing the past away. It means being open to change. This openness enables us to humbly seek God for what is best for the Church or ministry. Second. it helps us think out of the box. The ideas like "disagreeing without disengaging" forces us to learn how to disagree without running away from the disagreement altogether. For every conflict, there is a chance to learn more about the other parties and ourselves. Learning to work together is a core need in the Church. If churches fail to work together, what kind of a testimony will that present to outsiders? Third, the book may comprise of brief chapters but what it lacks in depth it more than compensates in the breadth of coverage of issues in ministry. 

JR Briggs is founder of Kairos Partnership and calls himself the Pastor/Cultural Cultivator of Renew Community. He has previously written a book entitled "Fail." Bob Hyatt is author, coach, and spiritual director. He is pastor and elder at the Everygreen Community as well as a staff member with Ecclesia Network.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Inter-Varsity Press and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Midweek Meditation: "On Addiction" (Billy Graham)

In memory of the late Billy Graham, for the next two months, each Wednesday weekly will contain quotes from the famous evangelist.
  • "Every generation becomes more addicted to the sedatives of life, to dull the pain of living."
  • "Many people turn to alcohol to try to drown the cries and longings of the soul. Others attempt to quiet the longings of their souls in other ways. Nothing but God ever completely satisfies, because the soul is made for God."
  • "Drinking has become one of the most serious social problems. It is basically the result of an attempt to escape from the responsibilities and realities of life."
  • "This self-confident generation has produced more alcoholics, more drug addicts, more criminals, more wars, more broken homes, more assaults, more embezzlements, more murders, and more suicides, . . . . . it is time that we place less confidence in ourselves and more trust and faith in God."
  • One of the characteristics of some drugs (such as cocaine) is that they make a person feel strong and alert - when in fact the opposite is the case. Don't allow yourself to be deceived."

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